Monday, 1 January 2007

Synchronising my life

I've been a Palm user for years - originally starting with the Pilot Personal before upgrading to the M500 and now the Tungsten T3 which I use today. For a long time, I tried to keep my personal life and work life separately, but one day realised I was spending too much time and effort entering the same data twice.

It was also around this time that I became fully acquainted with Outlook and started sharing my calendar with colleagues, managing my time using appointments etc. Synchronising with the Palm made a lot of sense, and I abandoned my previous attempts to delineate my life and embrace a joined up world. I effectively made Outlook the hub of my organising and started syncing the Palm with it (instead of Palm Desktop). The advantage of using Outlook in this way is that everything connects with it. I was then able to install my phone sync software (for the Sony Ericsson K800i) and ensure my contacts on my phone were up to date.

The problems I have at the moment is that my Linux box at home has nothing to do with my schedule, and there is no easy way to communicate my schedule with my fiancé.

Having spent a couple of days looking at the problem, I'm going to attempt the following:

1) Use Evolution instead of Thunderbird for email, and Palm sync to it for calendar, tasks and contacts. This is primarily because the PIM component of Thunderbird (Lightning - a reworking of Sunbird into an extension) isn't ready yet and cannot do Palm syncing.

2) Use Intellisync to connect Outlook to Yahoo Calendar and grant my fiancé read (and write..?) access to it.

This means that there is a danger of the Yahoo Calendar becoming out of date if I'm not at work, but it seems like the easiest way to do it.

This whole exercise has proven several things to me - most importantly that there is no easy way to share data that doesn't involve Outlook. It really has become the de facto schedule management software.

Also, I've learnt that Yahoo Calendar does not provide an automated way of reading the calendar as an iCalendar file. Also, Google Calendar does not provide any form of synchronisation beyond initial import/export of data.

If there is ever going to be a decent Open Source replacement for Microsoft Office, a worthy cross platform competitor to Outlook is needed. Hopefully Thunderbird/Lightning will be it and they'll get the Palm sync sorted.

The above seems like the most straightforward, but I'm also aware of Funambol - a potential server side solution which I might get around to investigating if Plan A doesn't work.

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